Technology

Are You Wired? How Ready is Your Association for the Digital Future?

By / Nov 2, 2012 (Veer, iStockPhoto)

Keeping up with technology’s breakneck pace isn’t easy—but associations are meeting the challenge by adopting five of the industry’s most important advances.

With just six staff members, it isn’t easy for the Snow and Ice Management Association to keep up with the ceaseless tide of new technology on the market.

Brian Birch, CAE, the organization’s assistant executive director and the equivalent of its chief information officer, dreams of tapping data sources to reveal more about the group’s 1,800 members, including how active they are on Twitter or if they want to access association data via smartphones.

But at the same time, he wants to make sure that data is secure and spread out—so members won’t lose access if their computer crashes or a big storm hits the data center.

“We want to do more with our data and technology, but it’s a big expense for us and a major sources of stress,” says Birch.

Heidi Byerly, CAE, chief information officer at the Society for Human Resource Management, which has 300 employees and more than 250,000 members, notes that associations operate in a larger world where technology has transformed how businesses and consumers interact. “The big challenge that all nonprofits face is an expectation from customers that they can have an Amazon-like experience with everything they do with you,” she says. “We don’t have an Amazon budget or workforce. Managing that expectation is huge.”

But using technology to ease members’ and employees’ access to information and improve delivery of the products and services members need can put an organization’s data at risk, forcing association tech professionals to engage in a constant balancing of convenience and security.

Associations may not have the resources to implement the latest technologies in the same way cash-rich corporations can, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention to advances in the industry and adopting some of the tech sector’s most buzzed-about products and platforms.

Articles In This Series:

1. Are You Wired?: Going Mobile
2. Are You Wired?: Harnessing Social Media
3. Are You Wired?: In The Cloud
4. Are You Wired?: Analytics Overhaul
5. Are You Wired?: Embracing E-Commerce
6. David Coriale: CIO Consultant Breaks Down Tech Issues
7. Are You Wired?: Great Reads

Dean Takahashi

Dean Takahashi is lead writer for GamesBeat at VentureBeat. More »

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